John Turnage at EAI’s spring meeting.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - John Turnage knows that a lot has been written and said about the impact of 13 SEER on the HVAC trade. Turnage, the president of Umpire Technologies Group Inc., spoke to members of Excellence Alliance (EAI) during the organization's Spring 2006 meeting in Virginia Beach. The focus of his speech was a summary of the key industry concerns about 13 SEER.

First and foremost, Turnage said the HVAC industry must ensure that customers are getting what they pay for when they buy 13 SEER equipment. "Improperly installed 13 SEER equipment will not deliver 13 SEER efficiency," he noted. "There has to be a good distribution system, e.g., duct leakage is an efficiency killer."

With the increased cost of 13 SEER equipment over previously installed 10 and 12 SEER systems, customers may not want to make the increased investment, especially those who can least afford it. "Low-income families will be unable to afford 13 SEER equipment," said Turnage. "And those who can't afford to replace will continue to repair old equipment, which will continue to increase energy consumption."

Not only that, added Turnage, but consumers living in some parts of the United States, mainly in the North, may not see an energy-savings payback on their equipment for nine to 14 years, making the investment even harder to sell.


Besides installing the equipment correctly, Turnage reminded seminar attendees that they must continue to take the necessary steps to size the system before, during, and after the installation.

"The main problem is that most contractors don't run load calculations to determine the proper components of the thermal envelope," he said. "All of the pieces and parts have to be taken seriously.

"With add-on and replacements you must make sure that the components are a rated match."

Turnage noted it is imperative that installers understand and follow equipment manufacturer's recommendations. And equally important is knowing that size does make a difference.

"The physical location of the equipment determines its operating efficiency and its serviceability," he said, noting that the 13 SEER envelope sizes are larger and may require design changes to fit into a tight space.

Once the equipment has been installed, it is incumbent upon contractors to ensure that the system is properly commissioned. That takes a knowledgeable technician.

"You can't afford to have a technician who is just OK," Turnage said. "Each system must be started, checked, and documented for proper airflow, air temperatures, refrigerant pressure, and amp draw."

Having a properly trained staff not only ensures the proper operation of a 13 SEER system, it also goes a lot further. "The sales approach must change," he said. "Now, more than ever, we need to sell our company and not just the system."

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Publication date: 05/15/2006